Sourav Ganguly - Ravi Shastri rift is another shameful incident in the chronicles of Indian Cricket
Cricket has seen many unpleasant rifts between cricketers. Some, on the field, while the others, off it. Sourav Ganguly and Ravi Shastri, the two stalwarts of Indian cricket, have shared a caustic past since Ganguly’s peak days as the captain of the Indian Cricket Team. And ever since, the gulf only seems to be widening between the two, which is not good news for Indian cricket. The rift is gradually snowballing into a controversy that is being driven by widely divergent opinions.
Blast from the past
The blast from the past shows the strained relationship between Ganguly and Shastri since the days when Team India had arguably found one of its best captains along with one of its greatest opening pairs in the name of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. Ravi Shastri, who was a commentator back then, refused to credit Ganguly for the success of Indian Cricket and argued that his captaincy was blown out of proportion.
Such despicable and groundless remarks coming at a time when Ganguly had already become the Prince of Kolkata indicated a rocky relationship between the two in the future. And that is what we are witnessing today.
For openers, Ravi Shastri has been throwing vocal punches at Sourav Ganguly after losing out on the coveted job of India’s head coach. Making his personal grudge public in the media, the former team director argued that Ganguly’s personal scorn for him was the reason Kumble was given an extra edge despite having no coaching credentials. He further argued that Ganguly, who was the heavyweight in the selection committee, showed ‘disrespect’ towards him by not attending the interview he gave for the job.
Dada, it appeared, had other priorities with the CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal) which he had sorted out long before the schedule for Shastri’s interview was finalized. Breaking his silence, Ganguly spoke to the paparazzi and described Shastri’s claim as a “personal attack”. Not stopping at that, he further hit back by saying that Shastri was “living a fool’s world” if he held Ganguly responsible for being on the losing end.
It was also learnt from Dada that Shastri made his presentation on Skype while holidaying in Bangkok. When advised professionalism by Shastri on not having attended the meeting, Dada retaliated, “when the coach of India is selected and it's one of the most important jobs in cricket, he should be in front of the committee giving his presentation and not sit in Bangkok on holiday and make a presentation on camera especially when someone who is one of the greatest cricketers of India all time spoke for two hours nearly, Anil Kumble."
Groupism in Indian cricket
Ravi Shastri served as the Team Director for 18 months and built a good rapport with the players. He claims to have grown the team to a different side altogether and feels he didn’t deserve the raw deal. It is quite validly feared that his stint with the team will lead to groupism in the cricket family with both of the stalwarts having followers alike.
Differences of opinion have already surfaced on the social media. Sportskeeda previously learnt from other quarters that Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina had been rooting for Ravi Shastri as the head coach.
Wednesday morning, the former left-arm orthodox Bishan Bedi took to Twitter in support of Shastri. His handle read thus: “Not getting coach's job apart RJSHASTRI has every reason 2b peeved with selection process whence 1 selector played truant..not above board!!”
This was followed by a tweet from Sanjay Manjrekar, who came out in support of Sourav. He maintained that Shastri was not used to rejection and wrote “More than Sourav, I think Ravi is miffed with the rejection. It's a new experience for him. BCCI have made the better choice as coach”.
Soon later, Gautam Gambhir too joined the debate, sharing Manjrekar’s wavelength. The former Indian batsman denounced Shastri for firing a salvo at Ganguly. While speaking to a television channel, the KKR skipper said that Shastri’s comments were a reflection of his desperation. “Ravi Shastri’s comments only show his desperation. Kumble is the best choice. He is a hardworking person”, opinionated Gambhir.
There were also those who preferred running with the hair and hunting with the hounds. Current Team India coach, Anil Kumble, played it safe by saying that it wasn’t the coach but the players who were the most significant part of the cricket system. Praising Shastri’s role as the Team director, he said “it is not about Ravi or Anil, it is about the players.”
Groundless accusations and immaturity
Looking at the entire incident from a neutral perspective, the accusations are baseless because the coach has been unanimously selected by a group of members and not Ganguly alone. It is Indian Cricket which will bear the brunt of this.
The incident has taken place not long after Harsha Bhogle was sacked unceremoniously as a commentator in the IPL. Not longer after two Indian nationals, one of them linked to the India-Zimbabwe series rights holder, were accused on charges of rape. Indian cricket seems to be falling in the bad books of world cricket. And we, as spectators, as fans, and as Indians, feel ashamed.
Potentially, Ravi Shastri and Sourav Ganguly are two of the shrewdest cricketing minds and can together work wonders for the game. While the former has put down his papers as a member of the ICC, the latter will continue to discharge his duties as a powerful administrator. Both of the cricketing geniuses have worked for the betterment of Indian Cricket. But playing out a contest in the media, which has not only Indian but the global audience too, is not something that was expected of the two.
In a country where everything assumes a political scenario, it seems like we soon need a contractor to build bridges between Dada and Shastri.